Yes, you read that right. I start getting ready for Christmas in September. I’m not crazy. Although I do love Christmas, that’s not the reason I do it. I mainly do it because December is so busy.
By the time you’ve gone to a couple holiday musicals or pageants, a few parties and visited with practically every living member of your family, there isn’t much time to shop, mail Christmas cards, do the special holiday baking or really anything else. At least, not without being stressed out like crazy.
So I start in planning and preparing in September.
There are some serious benefits!
- Sales – since you are starting early, you can really shop around, wait for a good sale and get the best possible price. Saving money, especially during the holidays is always a benefit.
- Time – since you’ve started early, you will save yourself lots of time. No running through packed malls in the days leading up to Christmas. You’ll also save yourself some more money since you won’t pay expedited shipping rates and you won’t worry about gifts not showing up on time.
- Priorities – You have time to prioritize what you actually want to do. There are so many things to do. You actually have time to search out the best Santa in town, best spot to see the parade and decide whether or not the $100 is worth the Nutcracker tickets.
- Less stress – Doing a little bit every month really means there will be less to do in December and then you can actually enjoy your kid’s Christmas play without worrying about trying to get everything done.
So, what do I do to prepare so far in advanced?
- Make a budget- this is so important. It is so easy to go overboard at Christmas and no one wants a surprise on the Mastercard bill in January.
- Make a list of everyone you will be buying gifts for and what you want to get them. Come up with a couple of ideas and a budget for each person. Make sure to include gifts for coworkers, neighbors, and a secret Santa and add a few extra just in case!
- Make a list of stocking stuffers- we usually use stockings to stock up on things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and shampoo. A few little snacks and other small items are added just for fun. Make a list and keep it on your phone. That way you can pick up things when they go on sale.
- Christmas Card list – make a list of who you want to send cards to this year. Then gather up and update addresses for the Christmas card list. We actually keep a permanent list and update it every year around this time. Most of the time there are only a few changes. Then we just print the addresses on labels, which makes the process a little bit faster later on.
- Make a list of gift ideas and clothing sizes for each child – I didn’t realize how important this would be until Alexie’s birthday. Family and friends will ask so you might as well give them a list. And don’t forget to include the clothing sizes of what your child actually wears.
- Start shopping – Take this time to look for sales, compare prices. Shop online and sign up for price alerts. The next 2 months are prime sale season, so stay alert.
- Search for ideas and decide on a Christmas card design – I’m a little obsessed with Christmas cards so I love to start early and get some inspiration.
- Get inspired and get some ideas for any special ideas or projects that you might want to do – want to make a new wreath for your front door? Think about it now. Now is the time to plan out what you want to do and what you’ll need. But don’t over-extend yourself.
- If you are making any homemade gifts, make them now – we often make homemade gifts for our neighbors and co-workers (apple butter is a favorite) and now is the time to make them. One less thing to do in December.
- Order Christmas cards- I order our Christmas cards the first week of November. That leaves lots of time for them to arrive and for me to address them and get the postage needed.
- Finish shopping for gifts and stocking stuffers – By the end of the month, I’m usually done shopping and just waiting on a few online buys, purchased during Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales to ship and arrive at my door.
- Make and freeze cookie dough – Baking is a huge part of the holidays. I have a few favorite recipes and I make the dough and freeze it now. I’ll thaw, bake and decorate the cookies later in December, but the dough is all ready to go. It’s one less step and makes decorating cookies with kids so much easier.
- Decorate the house and possibly put up your tree – I spend the last week of November decorating my house, including hanging lights, garlands, and my putting up our 2 Christmas trees. I would probably start earlier, but my hubby doesn’t like it until after American Thanksgiving.
- Send out Christmas cards – The end of the month, I send out our Christmas cards so they have plenty of time to arrive before the holidays.
- Plan out December Activities and Events – Now is the time to mark your calendar for all those pageants, concerts, parties and any other activities you want or need to do in the month of December. It’ll give you a chance to prioritize your events and give yourself some downtime too.
- Plan out advent calendar ideas (if you do one) – I’m big on doing our own family advent calendar, full of little activities that we can do to get us into the festive spirit. Now is the point in time that we should get this figured out before December 1st.
- Wrap gifts and stocking stuffers – I don’t like to wrap gifts until December because I feel it is a part of the holiday season. It also lets me double check that I’m done with the shopping and that everyone is accounted for.
- Finish holiday baking – Now it’s time to finish up all that delicious baking. I thaw my dough and bake my delicious cookies. Don’t forget to decorate them too.
- Do you advent calendar activities – enjoy the little treats, outings and fun holiday activities.
- Go to your parties, plays, concerts and visit the family – Tis’ the season for parties and concerts. So enjoy them.
- Enjoy the holidays – Since you’ve done a little bit for the last several months, you can now relax during the most wonderful and busiest time of the year.
There! Now if you spend a little time each month, there will be less to do during December when time is limited. You’ll be less stressed, on budget and will have plenty of time to make everything magical for the holiday season. You’ll even get a chance to enjoy it! How great is that?